Gold futures briefly returned above the key $1,900 mark on Thursday before settling up but off those highs as the dollar — the contrarian trade to the yellow metal — broke major support.
Strong commitments for more bond-buying by the Federal Reserve on Wednesday and signs that U.S. lawmakers were in final negotiations for a Covid-19 fiscal relief weighed heavily on the Dollar Index, bringing strong bids for gold, which works as a hedge against inflation.
The Dollar Index, which pits the greenback against a basket of six currencies, hovered at 89.7, breaking below its major 90-handle the first time since April 2018.
Gold futures for February delivery on New York’s Comex settled at $1,890.40, up 31.30, or 1.7%.
It earlier scaled $1,901.75, marking the first trade above $1,900 for gold futures since Nov 6, when the yellow metal collapsed in response to news rushes on the 95% efficacy in Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine. Up until then, gold had mostly held above $1,900 as a safe-haven play against the havoc wrought on the economy by the pandemic.
Months of inconclusive talk between Republican and Democrat lawmakers for a second Covid-19 stimulus also came to bear on gold after the Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) vaccine stories, deepening its selloff. In recent weeks, however, talks have resumed for another Covid-19 stimulus after $3 trillion passed in March, helping gold recover from the near five-month low of $1,767.20 hit in November.
Gold was also bolstered by Wednesday’s announcement by the Federal Reserve buy at least $80 billion per month of Treasury securities and $40 billion per month of agency mortgage-backed securities in a bid to provide maximum employment to Americans and price stability to the economy. U.S. unemployment claims rose for a second week in a row, data showed on Thursday, reinforcing the need for urgent fiscal help.
Gold’s continued climb will depend on the ability of Republicans and Democrats to come true on their word for a Covid-19 deal, after months of pledges and failed negotiations, analysts said.
Marathon talks on the stimulus have continued from Tuesday into Thursday, with all the four key players — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and their respective seconds in command, Chuck Schumer and Kevin McCarthy — glued in.
All four have expressed strong confidence that a deal is imminent, and that it could include checks in the mail for needy Americans. Pelosi even said a text of the deal might be ready for distribution before the end of Thursday.
Another crash in gold to the low $1,800s, or even deeper, is likely if this round of stimulus talks get botched as well.